SANTA CLARA — Here’s what Alex Smith said at his locker this morning.
Q: How close was your offense to making big plays on Thursday?
ALEX SMITH: I think when I turned on the film, there were some opportunities I think to push the ball down the field a few times. Get those one-on-one matchups down the field and try to take advantage of them. I think that’s definitely what I came away from the game, having watched the film, seeing…You pick your spots to do that. Obviously, protection was an issue, so you pick your spots to do it, but I think that’s definitely, I think looking back, it could have gone a little differently. But in a game like that, one or two plays changes that game. It was such a defensive battle – we knew it was going to be like that. One or two plays in that game change the game. Look at them – they get the P.I. call, that’s a 50 yard penalty, that gives them three points. Plays like that are difference makers in a game like that.
Q: You guys have been pretty good against the blitz all year. What went wrong on Sunday?
ALEX SMITH: I thought Coach Harbaugh kind of nailed it right on the head – it was kind of all the way around. Definitely a couple calls I could have changed and helped us out up front – definitely put us in some tough situations, the guys up front. Definitely felt a couple times I held on to it or could have got out of there and help the guys up front. And a couple weren’t necessarily even pressure, it just four-man (rush) and we’ve got to hold up better, so definitely all the way around. But yeah, something we take a lot of pride in is when we get pressure is really beating it and making teams pay. Really felt like they were setting the tone on us last Thursday – we didn’t have a beat on it very well, especially on third down, for all those reasons I just said.
Q: Last year Frank Gore was one of your top pass catchers. This year he hasn’t caught nearly as many passes. Why is that?
ALEX SMITH: Good question, probably a lot of different things. The scheme is obviously just a little different. Protections are different – that all impacts it, especially a running back getting out into his check downs. Frank’s one of the best in the game I think at protecting, he takes a lot of pride in that, and the way we use him in our protections, sometimes he doesn’t get out all the time. You play that game there – do you want the backs running out or do you want them in protection? I don’t know if there’s any one thing.
Q: How is this loss going to refocus the team?
ALEX SMITH: Obviously, you watch the film and you see where you got exposed. That’s for sure. And we need to get better, and how to do it, how teams might be attacking us in the future, things like that. There’s a lot of areas. Other than that, I think this locker room is such a great group of guys. We knew that was a tough game, we knew it was a big challenge for us going over there, playing a really good football team, a really good defense. Kind of got handed to us a little bit, especially on offense, but I don’t think this team will have a problem bouncing back and getting ourselves together.
Q: How important is it for you to get on the same page with Braylon Edwards going forward?
ALEX SMITH: No question. We weren’t able to do it on Thursday. I don’t think it was anything to get worked up about. We need to get him the ball, keep him involved because he’s such a playmaker, especially downfield, he’s such a threat. Need to get him more involved. Didn’t do that on Thursday.
Q: Is that because he hasn’t been practicing fully?
ALEX SMITH: Anytime you’re coming off an injury it’s a work in progress for him to come back after something like that with his knee, I think he’s still getting more and more comfortable on it.
Q: Did the Ravens do something with their defensive front that you hadn’t seen before?
ALEX SMITH: Yeah, they’re a very unique defense, especially in the secondary. I mean, they’ve got Ed Reed back there. The guy’s a pretty unique player. He himself does a lot to disguise – he’s all over the place back there, so that’s another thing. All of a sudden you’re getting all these crazy looks up front with their front seven, and then you look up and you’re looking at the secondary and you’re getting just as crazy looks back there, so it’s a lot to put together. All I can say is it was a great test for us. I mean, obviously we had our hands full, but they’re a pretty unique defense. Not a lot of teams are doing what they’re doing.
Q: You missed a wide open Delanie Walker on the first play of the game.
ALEX SMITH: It was the first play of the game, I’m really thinking, the way the play was designed – getting a completion, get the ball rolling, just kind of do a little misdirection, get out of the pocket, and as soon as I threw the ball to Vernon I looked up and saw Delanie by himself and knew there was potentially a chance there. First play of the game you’re thinking: “Ah, I’m going to get a lot of opportunities. I’ll have several more.” But in a game like that it turns out, looking back, it was a big missed opportunity.
Q: What does it mean to you to be playing for a playoff birth this weekend?
ALEX SMITH: It’s crazy. Watching the games yesterday and seeing what happened, Seattle losing…I guess we all understand it’s there. I still point to the fact that we still have so many division games left. But obviously, yeah, I think this one, we’ve got the Rams coming to town, a division game, a lot on the line, and potentially a chance to get the division.